Al Ain school first to lift outdoor mask requirement after hitting 85% vaccination mark

Grace Valley Indian School is permitted to ease coronavirus restrictions after achieving top vaccination rates in Abu Dhabi's Blue Schools initiative

Pupils at Grace Valley Indian School are no longer required to wear masks outdoors thanks to a high vaccination rate. Photo: Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge

Pupils can go outside without wearing masks at an Al Ain school after it became the first to hit the milestone 85 per cent vaccination mark under an Abu Dhabi Covid-19 safety scheme.

Grace Valley Indian School can ease coronavirus restrictions immediately after achieving the top Blue tier status for its high inoculation uptake in the Blue Schools initiative.

Vaccination rates among schoolchildren in Abu Dhabi have risen significantly since the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) introduced the policy earlier this month.

About 107,000 pupils - 39 per cent of the school population in the capital - have been vaccinated so far.

I would like to personally thank all parents who chose to vaccinate their children
Sara Musallam, chairwoman of Adek

As their vaccination rates increase, private and charter schools can advance through four colour-coded tiers: Orange (less than 50 per cent of school population vaccinated), Yellow (50-64 per cent), Green (65-84 per cent), and Blue (85 per cent and above).

They will enjoy more privileges with each tier.

Physical distancing rules can be lifted at Grace Valley, while events including assemblies and graduation ceremonies can be held and activities with other Blue-tier schools including sports tournaments and competitions will be permitted.

Parents can attend on-campus macro bubble events, while adhering to entry requirements, and field trips will be reinstated.

“The efforts made by the Grace Valley Indian School community to return to normality stand as an exemplary role model to the Abu Dhabi education sector,” said Sara Musallam, chairwoman of Adek.

"I would like to personally thank all parents who chose to vaccinate their children. Your decision has helped to protect the health and safety of your child’s school community and contributed towards a return to pre-pandemic school operations," she said.

“Since the Blue Schools Initiative’s activation just two weeks ago, we have seen a prominent increase in student vaccination rates.

"School community stakeholders, including students, parents, principals, and teachers have worked collectively to make this possible, and it is encouraging to see so many schools advance through the tiers due to an increase in student vaccination adoption. We look forward to celebrating more schools that advance to the Blue tier soon.”

A survey by Adek found that parents of 52,000 pupils across Abu Dhabi’s Private and Charter Schools are interested in vaccinating their children.

Seven schools have progressed from Orange to Yellow tier, while one has moved from Yellow to Green tier, with those in Green becoming a step closer to achieving the top Blue tier.

Amid an increase in vaccination rates, Adec carried out a survey in co-operation with schools to gauge parents’ opinions on Covid-19 immunisation.

107,000 pupils have been vaccinated so far. This breaks down to 94 per cent of 16 year olds and above, 70 per cent of children between 12 and 15, and 40 per cent of children under 12 years of age.

Adek said vaccination rates doubled for children under 12 in the last two weeks since the Blue Schools Initiative was launched.

The regulator is working with health authorities to provide dedicated vaccination locations for Abu Dhabi pupils.

What does Blue tier status mean?

* Pupils can remove masks outdoors

* Physical distancing measures for pupils can be removed

* All field trips allowed (also for Green-tier schools)

* Bus capacity back to 100 per cent (also for Green schools)

* Duration of school closure for Covid-19 outbreak capped at seven days (also for Green schools)

* Class/bubble sizes set at 25 (kindergarten to foundation stage) and 30 (Grade 1/Year 2 and above)

* Events such as school assemblies, graduation ceremonies are permitted

* Inter-school activities, such as sports competitions, allowed with other Blue Schools (such activities contained to the school approved at Green level)

Updated: November 23, 2021, 3:44 PM